Saturday, March 20, 2010

Poker Face -- Lady Gaga

Just like a chick in the casino
Take your bank before I pay you out
I promise this, promise this
Check this hand cause I'm marvelous

So, anyone who followed me home from my errands today got a glimpse of my musical ADHD.

No sooner had Sarah Brightman hit that last note did Lady Gaga make her presence known. I know, for a fact, that the sudden acceleration of the older woman who had been pacing me on Center City is directly attributable to the change in musical moods. Truly, Granny got gas when Kelly got Gaga.

Have you ever judged someone or something without all the facts? I had only known Lady Gaga from her images in People Magazine, one of my many sources of newsworthy information (yes, I realize I just insulted my own intelligence, but I am feeling a mite self effacing at the moment). Let me tell you, the images really did not make me curious for the music . . . Too put it bluntly, she freaks me out, and not in a good way.

Then, one day I was channel surfing on XM while in traffic . . . The iPod was out of juice so I went for the emergency back-up car noise. I caught this song during the chorus and I thought the sound was pretty catching. I quickly checked the audio information, and low and behold, I was rocking to Gaga.

Well, after the initial shock wore off, I headed home and by that night Gaga was the newest fixture on my "Just Push Repeat" playlist. This song is often my lead song on the elliptical . . .it gets me moving when I need it.

To this day, I cannot honestly say I am goo goo for Gaga (it was too easy, I had to do it) but because of her I was reminded that I shalt not judge an artist for her appearance lest I wish to miss the chance to get moving.

Sarai Quii -- Sarah Brightman

La mia luce accendi tu
E sai perche'
Io mi sento forte
Solo grazie a te
Tu sarai sempre quii
Tu sarai sempre quii

Have you ever had music literally move you to tears? Sarah Brightman's music has always had that power over me and it continues, to this day, to be some of my favorite audio stimulation for any situation or circumstance.

Like many others, I first discovered Sarah Brightman through the brilliant work of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom. Her voice just inspires . . .there is no other way to explain it.

I was all but a pesky kid when I first heard the Phantom score. Until then, my music scope was limited to the great works of Michael Jackson, REO Speedwagon and, of course, New Kids on the Block. This was a departure from the norm for me. Seriously, musicals were for old people, like my parents, and those who walked with their noses at a permanent 45 degree angle. Not for a youngster with a penchant for bubble gum and boy bands.

But I can remember hearing "Think of Me" for the first time and feeling my eyes fill with tears. I had never heard anything so beautiful or moving. I couldn't understand the lyrics, the thematic meanings or the significance. . . I only knew that listening to the music made me feel like crying and moved me more than words could express. When I finally got to see the stage show, I seriously cried throughout the entire show. Can't explain why, I just did.

Over the years, I have continued to follow Sarah's music evolution. She certainly has come a long way from Christine. When the Symphony album came out, I can remember being in a bookstore and hearing it over the audio system . . .Well, the predictable happened, and I ended up sniffling in the Romance section. Three kleenex and two CD's later (gotta get one for Mom too), I was on my way. I think I must have listened to the CD no less than 8 hours straight when I first got it. . .Rarely, if ever, do I find an album where every track moves me.

Sarai Quii is, without a doubt, my favorite song from the album . . .and no, not just because the man on the duet, Alessandro Safina is an Italian Stallion of the first order. Even in Italian, a language not in my personal repertoire, the song carries tremendous meaning for me. I don't know the English translation, and frankly I don't need to. I just know it is good music, and even now, I still need kleenex when it comes on.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Please Don't Go Girl -- New Kids on the Block

Tell me you'll stay
Never ever go away
I need you (I need you)
I guess I always will

Please don't judge me internet . . . Every once in a while I like to relive the days of my youth (except the middle schools days because, let's face it, middle school sucked lemons). These guys and their bubble gum lyrics help me do that.

I was a huge, and I do mean HUGE New Kids, or NKOTB, fan. At one time, photos of the band from smuggled Bop, Bopper, Seventeen and Teen, magazines were used as wallpaper in my room. I had the pillow, the pillow case, the tapes, the buttons, the tour jacket, the posters, the teddy bear, and the official membership in the New Kids fan club. I wrote to the boys, who never wrote back because I am sure they were all fighting over me. . . let me live the dream. I literally drove my mother crazy with the music. I was somewhat of an outcast in my school for liking these guys. Everyone else was into "real" music groups like Pet Shop Boys, Survivor, INXS and Guns 'n Roses, but I was all about the Kids.

My favorite was Joe . . .I mean, look at that punum there. When he did this song, he had that sexy high voice (damn puberty for taking that away from me). He just is too cute for poetry. Donny scared me, Danny was just there, Jon was a fantasy of an older man sort (if I am being completely honest, he made my tooshy tingle just a bit but he was into Tiffany and I could not compete), and Jordan could make my toes curl with the falsetto . . .but I was lost to Joe.

This is my favorite of their songs, primarily because of the Joe starring role. Lets face it, the lyrics are average at best, and boy band trite to say the least, but oh they spoke to the young and starstruck me. I used to play this over and over and over singing to the lyrics and imagining that Joe was in my room singing to me.

When I finally got to see the guys in concert, which is a story for another time, I lost my voice screaming for Joe while he was singing this song. Sadly, he probably never saw me in the crowd that night, what with the thousands of other screaming fans who had the audacity to come to my concert. But he sang this for me and only me.

His girl still ain't gone. She may be a bit older, and somewhat (being generous here) more mature, but the song and the memories can still cause tooshy tingle.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Barry Manilow -- The Concert

Because music comes in all forms, and all formats, I decided to share some of my most memorable concert experiences as part of the new blog format.

There is a story here. . .don't judge. I love my brother Mike. I really, really, REALLY love my brother Mike. He is the only one in the world I would have done this for.

With that, let me set the scene . . .Picture it, St Louis, the late nineties. I am in college getting ready to come home for the holidays when I get a call from my mother. The conversation basically went as follows:

"Hi Sweetie. We have the laundry room cleared for you. How many suitcases can I expect and should I bring the SUV to pick you up?"

"Very funny," I replied. And after a prolonged silence, "alright, two large ones and two carry ons. You may want to bring a dolly."

After much laughter, Mom carried on. "Honey, you may need to sit down, I have news. I left your father unsupervised with your brother recently . . ."

"Mom, we have discussed this. They are never, ever to be left alone. Mike is sneaky and Dad is susceptible. Just tell me. How bad can it be?"

Mom took a deep, dramatic breath, and then she let fly with the horror. "Your brother learned that Barry Manilow is coming to San Diego soon, and he told your father, and your father got tickets, and he got four tickets, and I am not going without you."

"I need a drink."

"You're too young to drink," Mom replied primly.

"Mom, do you really want me to remind you of the Mexico incidents from your youth?"

"I should have never encouraged you to speak. Moreover, I should have just waited until you were home and let you find out the hard way," Mom replied. "Anyway, that is not the worst, I mean best part. Don't you want to know where we are sitting?"

"Isn't it bad enough that we are sitting in the arena?" I replied glibly.

More silence, and then the dreaded words. "Kelly, your father went through a ticket broker. We are sitting on the floor, in the front row, dead center."

The remainder of the conversation is not fit to print . . .sufficed to say, I hit at least three of Carlin's Seven Dirty Words in the remainder of the conversation and then I hightailed it to the campus bar for liquid courage. But lets face it . . .there is no amount of liquid that could dull the senses enough.

Fast forward to me coming home, somewhat subdued and drowning in dirty laundry. Mom and I girded our collective stomachs and prepared for the Barely Man-enough (did I say that) concert. Some brilliant person, otherwise known as my masochistic Dad, suggested we make a night of it with dinner before hand. Oh goody, so I will have a full stomach to throw up with.

The concert was at one of the local arenas and before I knew it, I was plunked in a folding chair on the front row between my brother and my mom. All too soon, the lights went down and the show began.

Can I just say that Barry Manilow is one of the smallest men I have ever seen. I mean, I could seriously span his waist with my hands (not on a first date of course). He was wearing a purple suit and enough make up to put Mary Kay in the black for decades. And lucky me, I got to see it all up close and very personally.

Mike, on the other hand, missed a good chunk of the concert. Apparently, Barry has a large, and I do mean LARGE following, in the form of very voluptuous women. I mean, seriously, there was not a Weight Watchers meeting that night . . .all the ladies were screaming for Barry.

The largest of the large Marge's was conveniently seated right behind Mike. The reason Mike missed a majority of the concert is because his "lady friend's" bodacious and humongous tatas were literally covering Mike's head. Every once in a while, Mike would swipe blindly at the woman trying to move the gazungas out of the way, but it was useless. Mike spent the entire concert head banging to the great sounds of Copacabana, and not voluntarily.

Mom and I were in tears . . . The laughter had us completely breathless. Dad, in the meantime, was practically sitting on Mike's lap because the person next to him took up all of her seat and half of his. None of us really saw the show on stage. The one in the audience was too good to miss.

It was one of the best concerts of my life, simply because of the stories and memories that we have as a family. Also because we all ended up having to have chiropractic treatments and massages to recover from the beatings we took.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Standing Outside the Fire -- Garth Brooks

Standing outside the fire
Life is not tried, it is merely survived
If you're standing outside the fire

I found Country music in college. I was a hard core, pop rock, high hair, trendy and boy band crazy fiend all through middle and high school. Then I went to St Louis, and a couple of my friends turned me onto the Country music genre.

I was forever hooked, much to my family's dismay. I started talking with a twang and saying "y'all" constantly in conversation I had the boots, the hat, and the tendency to frequent the stuff-kickers bar, otherwise known as Stampede, on the weekends. I mastered line dancing, and I tried to become proficient at the two step . . . for which I will eternally remember the men whose toes were sacrificed in that fun pursuit.

Garth Brooks was HUGE when I was in college, and there are so many of his songs that I love. This one speaks to me from the lyrics to the video. It is, at its most basic, about not letting life go on without you and not being afraid of the scrapes, the scars and most of all the adventure.

There is a point in the movie The Holiday where Kate Winslet's character talks about being the master of her own life. For a long time I lived to fulfill the expectations of others. I was afraid to step off the path that had been set before me . . . education, a stable job and a predictable path. It has only been in the last decade or so that I have learned to make life mine.

It is so much easier when the only map you follow is your own. Don't get me wrong, I am so grateful to all the people who have pushed me to succeed, but I am so very happy to be choosing my own paths now. I stopped asking permission and I started asserting myself and speaking to my feelings and emotions. It is so empowering to know that I do not have to be afraid of having thoughts, feelings and emotions.

If I want to jump into the fire, the only person I need to check with is myself.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sound of Silence -- Simon and Garfunkel

"Fools," said I, "You do not know
"Silence like a cancer grows."
"Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you."
But my words like silent raindrops fell,
And echoed in the wells of silence.

Those who really know me probably would question what I know about the sound of silence. I like to talk . . . whether people like to listen is a topic for debate at the highest levels.

In all honesty though, silence is something I am familiar with. I can be, in equal measures, very devious and very vulnerable when I get quiet. Dave's first warning sign is normally my silence, for it is pretty stark when it hits. What I don't often say is that, for me, the silence is just as important, just as loud, as the talk. We can learn so much in quiet.

Sidebar here -- Have you ever noticed that some of the most intelligent, outgoing and gregarious people can often also be the quietest? If they are anything like me, it is because there are times when they crave the precious resource of peace and silence. Silence is restorative at its most basic, but it can also be a powerful path to any number of ends.

I consider myself to be a smart person, but sometimes song lyrics just do not make sense to me. The lyrics to "Sound of Silence," for the most part, go right over my head. Except for the passage that I quoted. I can see how silence can eat someone whole and leave nothing behind. But I also see how constant noise without its peaceful counterpart can be just as empty.

Communication is so integral to our social structure, but it is amazing how bad we can be at this very fundamental skill. Books and lectures have been written, seminars conducted, millions of dollars have transferred hands, but in the end we, as humans, can really stink at talking to each other.

In my opinion, basic as it may be, it is because we forget that God gave us (yes I am going there) two ears but only one mouth. We need to listen twice as often and twice as well as we speak. So much can be avoided through active listening, and really hearing the words in their context as delivered. If we put half the money we have spent into listening seminars, I think we would be a lot better off.

Words can mean so much, but the silence can be just as instructive.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Pirates Life For Me -- Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean

We're beggars and blighters and ne'er do-well cads
Drink up me hearties, yo ho
Aye, but we're loved by our mommies and dads
Drink up me hearties, yo ho

Ok, well, I had hoped there would be more time before we got into full blown confession mode, but the Ipod has other ideas. It wants me to admit that I, a supposed adult, am totally, completely and utterly ENAMORED with all things Disney. I am a super fan of the House of Mouse. . .I even have gone so far as to purchase art that previously hung in the Disneyland Hotels. Seriously, my walls overfloweth.

When I was about 4 or 5 my parents started a new tradition for my birthday which is in early September. Every year, right before labor day, we would go on vacation for a week. The first three days were spent at the Disneyland Hotel and in the park . . . The rest of the week we spent in Big Bear. The three days at Disneyland were always like a bribe to get me ready for the rest of the week at Big Bear. I got car sick every year going up the mountain and I learned to hate the drive and, by default, the destination.

But those Disneyland days were magic for me. I have so many memories from those trips. I got my first Barbie at Disneyland. I used to love those large multi-colored suckers that they sell all over the park . . .much to my father's frustration when the sucker made a "reappearance" on the drive to Big Bear one year. There were years of stuffed animals, most of which I still have, and clothing of the unique Disney variety. I had birthday dinners with the characters, and for a couple of years we were able to get into Club 33 (the uber super secret, sort of, private club located above the Pirates of the Caribbean ride) for lunch or dinner.

Pirates of the Caribbean has always been one of my absolute favorite rides. I love the sights, sounds, and (surprisingly) the smell of the ride. Because it is a water ride, in the dark, there is a sort of dank and musty smell to the ride that is forever the Pirates smell for me. Smells are big memory triggers for me. No matter what, a musty, dank smell will always remind me of riding in the dark past the fabled, and cursed, pirate treasure.

Having some of the Disney soundtrack is a fun, and budget friendly, way for me to be close to the house that Mickey built. I can listen to the pirates, and for a moment, I am in New Orleans square, looking for the booty and trying to avoid being sold as a wench at auction.